Tuesday, July 24, 2012


That's a photograph of a "God Particle." What is it? Why are scientists celebrating?

Next to John Cullum, my husband's side of the bed, there's a bible, and a book by Stephen Hawking. John is fascinated by "black holes" and religion.

Einstein's relativity, the Fourth Dimension, speed of light, black holes, and gravity are not my cup of tea.

I remember Newton and the apple, but what is "matter," why do things have "mass," why does "matter" have gravity -- when JC's talking about "particles," I find myself blinking -- not bored, but not sure what we're talking about.

I can chat about who's winning in sports, but except for the Green Bay Packers, and Roger Federer, it doesn't excite me. I don't know why "matter" is such an important issue, so I went on a Googling news adventure.

The God Particle is being celebrated at the Cern laboratory outside Geneva. The lab houses the large Hadron Collider.

At the center bottom of this picture, you can see a tiny figure (it's in a dark jacket, brown pants), and get a sense of the size of the machine that is the world's most powerful particle accelerator.

It's mammoth. The Hadron Collider sends subatomic protons (smaller ones) racing in opposite directions through a 17-mile tunnel, getting them to move faster and faster until, at nearly the speed of light. They collide head on -- bang-crash-boom -- smash together.

The impact vaporizes the particles into tiny fireballs of pure energy. The scientists doing this, have announced that they have, with this process, re-created the conditions of the first moments after the Big Bang. Each collision is a mini Big Bang creating many particles that decay into many, many other particles. But one particle -- the one that Peter Higgs, top scientist at the University of Edinburgh, saw, noted, measured, and photographed and claimed, forty years ago, that it occurred at the same place, same time, does in fact, occur at the same place with each test.

It's called the "Higgs Boson." In particle physics "boson" is a rarely used term that, means particle. (My husband pronounced it "bow son" -- is that southern politeness? Maybe it's booson --sort of like a woman's chest?)

Anyway, it's a huge discovery. Though the Higgs Boson is called "The God particle," it needed to be proved, beyond a shadow of a doubt. Proving it required many, many, many thousands of fireballs, and the giant accelerator has been cranking them out. . To me, reading through a mountain of technical descriptions, it seemed to be much ado over a very tiny thing, but a particle, according to Hawking, is probably what created the world.

On July 4th, the Cern lab team announced that they have proved the Higgs Boson.


Does it prove God created the world? What about all the the other fantastical things that scientists can't really explain? Does the Higgs Bosom prove God created them?

I'm not ready to discuss any of of this with bible-Hawking-book-reader-husband JC. But I'm excited, amazed, wondering what the Cern Lab Scientists are going to do next about the God Particle. How it's going to affect you and me?
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